On Friday October 7, your Mens’ and Womens’ Varsity Cross Country teams rushed into the vans after school to drive 4 hours to Fresno for the Clovis XC Invitational. Driving for miles through empty farmland, only the occasional rolling hill in the distance broke the monotony of our trek down to the race. While I can’t speak for what happened in the girl’s van, the boys passed time by belting out Katy Perry songs in between mouthfuls of Goldfish and pretzels.
After a few attempts at parkour at a rest stop, we continued on, eventually reaching our next destination: Denny’s, where we watched Dan M. (‘18) walk around the table with a fork after everyone finished, scavenging the leftover soggy potatoes, roast beef, and whatever else our team didn’t finish.
We arrived at the hotel at 9:00 pm, and after getting our room assignments in groups of four, the boys and girls gathered to watch a movie. Despite the sweltering heat produced by 14 people trying to fit on two beds in a tiny hotel room with broken AC, most enjoyed the film, Popstar.
We woke up around 8:00 to pack up, scarf down a quick hotel breakfast, and jumped on the vans at 9:30. When we got to Woodward Park, there was already an unending stream of cars and runners filing by – there had been JV, and Varsity Boys’, and Girls’ races for Divisions 1-3 throughout the whole morning.
After lugging mounds of food and setting up the tarp at our usual shady spot (we come to Woodward in Fresno not only for the Clovis Invitational, but also for the State Championships), we began to walk the course and warm up. While the boys warmed up, we cheered on the girls, who were already racing.
The race itself was a dusty blur – at times, the haze was so thick, I couldn’t see more than 4 runners ahead of me. Only catching glimpses of colorful singlets and flying legs, I struggled to breathe without inhaling too much dust.
Luckily, some portions of the race were grass, such as where the 2.1-mile mark was. This race had mats and clocks displayed at certain distances, which was very useful for goal splits and paces. The end of the race was a large, grassy field surrounded by hundreds of screaming spectators struggling to get to the front of the crowd. I personally didn’t hear them – by the end, with dust in my lungs and lactic acid in my legs, I was just concentrating on outkicking the guy next to me.
After the race, the boys went on a brief cooldown to the Jamba Juice station. We then found out that boys got 10th place out of 30 teams, and girls got 8th out of 24 teams – an impressive performance considering teams from all over the state had come to compete. After a team lunch at In-N-Out, we drove another four hours back to CPS, where we circled up for the team cheer.
Wish a cross country runner good luck for our third league race of the season this upcoming Tuesday!